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You have to spend money to make money?

March 31st, 2006 at 05:02 am

Is this true?

I know our $20 challenge is about making money without spending much, but can we do it without spending anything? With using only what we have already?

This is where I'm getting hung up.
DH loves to teach. His working on weekends has been giving talks. They're part of his job, so he can't get paid for them, but it's something he likes and is good at. He wants to be an adjunct professor, but can't without a grad degree. This sucks.

I'm thinking that right now the only thing I could do that wouldn't require spending money is growing produce. And even then, I'd have to pay market fees to sell at the farmers' market (but I'm going to volunteer for their committee, so I'll see if I can get space for free or discounted).

DH also wants me to develop a market gardening talk. The only way our farmers' market is going to take off is to get small, "backyard", gardeners. The large scale operations are locked into contracts with wholesalers. And truthfully, the average backyard garden can produce enough produce to allow you to have a small retail stand. If we could get enough growers, and get them to branch out from tomatoes and peppers and go for diversity, we could have a great market. But people need to be taught.

Did I mention I suck at public speaking? That the thought of even calling in to a radio show leaves me in tears and shaking? Yeah.

Combining Sales and Coupons (or how I got paid a penny to take something from th

March 29th, 2006 at 05:28 am

Seriously. I was in our local grocery. They had these cooking sauces that DH has been wanting to try. They're made fresh and packaged, but not to store long term. So there were several packages reduced for quick sale. They were reduced to $0.99. Next to them was a pad of in-store coupons for $1.00 off.

I was fully prepared for them to tell me I couldn't use the coupon for the reduced price item. And that was fine, I would have understood. But they just ran it through.

So, free cooking sauce (which DH LOVES) and an extra penny.

Of course, this means we are about $50 over our grocery budget for the month. Which means we spent $2.82 per day for each member of the family. That doesn't include eating out, though. I need to add a couple of dinners out, but that adds another $80 for the month.

No interest checking account?

March 25th, 2006 at 09:51 pm

My checking account is no fee, but also no interest.

In the beginning, I was more concerned with bouncing checks than I was with not earning interest, so all the money went into the checking account and stayed there.

After a year, I'm not fairly comfortable with the ease of transferring money from savings to checking online. I've not encountered any real problems (I have found, though, that they do maintenance at midnight which is my normal banking hour).

So, my new goal is to keep as much in savings as possible and only move it to checking when I know money will be coming out. Now, since several of my bills are automatic withdrawal, I make sure to keep a minimum of $400 in there and bump it up to $600-700 when I know to expect a withdrawal.

I know interest rates are low and this won't make much difference, but I'm messing with it anyway, why not make some money off of it, right?

Travelling again

March 20th, 2006 at 02:40 am

We drove to Waco to pick up our boys. It was a more expensive trip than it had to be - dh decided we HAD to stay overnight, so there was the hotel bill.

Then, we went to Costco. They had a coupon on a 4 man tent. He really wants to start taking the kids camping and our tent is a very small 2 man tent. I was going to buy myself a skirt (there was a coupon) but I decided I didn't like it, there were a lot of raw edges and loose strings.

But we also stopped at Whole Foods. It's March 19 and we have $20 left in the grocery budget for the month. We shouldn't need much but I know he's going to go beyond the budget.

The good thing is that we didn't eat out much. He promised me Taco Bueno for Saturday but we didn't make it all the way into Waco and then couldn't find one that is supposed to exist in Georgetown. So, another 6 months without Bueno (yes, he's in the doghouse). So at that point I just didn't care. Eat? Whatever, I'll just be hungry. So we used a coupon and had a milkshake at Ben & Jerry's. Then we went on to Costco and had supper there.

Today we had b'fast at the hotel and then just bought snacks at whole foods for lunch.

The man must be kept out of the stores

March 8th, 2006 at 03:01 am

My dh. God love him. He means well. But he just can't help himself.

We discuss our goals. How if we work to pay off debt, we can have all the cc debt paid by summer. How the best way to do that is to not buy things that we don't absolutely have to have right now.

So he went to Sam's today. Not because we really needed anything, but because he was in the town with one. He asked "do we need anything?" "I can't think of anything".

So he spends $100. He bought a trash can. Now we haven't had a kitchen trash can, well, ever. And it was something we wanted, but not something we HAD to have right now.

I had some frivolous spending as well. 65 cents on a soda. Mine doesn't seem so bad. (Yeah, I was going to give up soda for lent, but I'm not Catholic so it just didn't "take" for me).

I'm exhausted

March 5th, 2006 at 10:31 pm

It's a beautiful day today - high 80s - so we decided to do some gardening work.

I started with pulling out the mother in law's tongue which fills the front beds. A little would be fine, but this just looks ugly and tacky. I didn't get it all out, I filled the huge barrel and then dh wanted to move on.

Next, we planted one of my valentine's roses. I pushed some sprouting garlic around the edges (companion planting) and it was time to move on.

We brought cannas with us from Oklahoma. They've been in buckets of soil for a year now. So, we dumped them out, dug for tubers with eyes and planted them. We managed to plant 3 buckets (3 more to go).

Then, dh decided to tackle the palm screen we have on one side of our carport. It interferes with our ability to enjoy our pretty backyard and it's sooo overgrown that there is a ton of trash caught in it.

At that point, we realized our garden waste pile was about as big as the garbage men would be willing to pick up, so we stopped.

We didn't complete a single project (there are still 3 roses to plant), but we did enough to make a noticeable difference for each project. Some of the projects will need to wait until we get some more garden space (the rest of the cannas and the roses) and the other 2 will need to wait until they pick up the garden waste.

BUT - we didn't drive anywhere!

Nice little surprise

March 5th, 2006 at 04:38 am

So, we've paid our major bills this month, we still have about $500 to come out, but we have $2900 left in the bank. I'll get paid one more time.

So, it looks like we'll definitely meet my goal of sending $750 to credit cards this month.

I think I'll have him schedule $500 to come out monday. Every bit will help. And with cc's with a balance, the sooner you pay, the less interest there will be.

No gas day

March 5th, 2006 at 04:26 am

First one for the month.

We walked a total of 3.25 miles (give or take) to market days. While there, we spend $1.00 on cookies for the kids, $3 on sausages for the kids and $3.75 on tropical fruits.

We also spoke to the coordinator of the farmers' market and she wants me to be on the committee. I think I'll probably do it. I love farmers' markets and I do have some experience.

We'll have to be creative with this market. Most of the farmers here sell to wholesalers and are under contract. So we'll have to concentrate on the smaller, backyard gardeners. This will probably take scheduling classes and coordinating with the master gardeners and extension.

I got just a tad bit of sun today - LOL. I'm so fair, I wore a hat, so my face is fine, but I didn't think about my shoulders and neck. We left the house before ten and were back by noon, so sun wasn't something we really thought about. Thank goodness, uber-fair DS2 (so fair his skin sometimes looks translucent) didn't seem to get the same amount of sun, he had longer sleeves and a hat as well.

I spent a little time looking around at prices and things for sale. My thought is that it's flea market prices and people want a real deal, not a nice artisan piece. I don't know if the market could ever have that feel. I think if I want to sell jewelry, I'll have to combine it with produce or something and just be happy when I sell a single piece.

March Goals

March 2nd, 2006 at 06:11 am

1) 5 no gas days.

2) No eating out other than traveling for spring break.

3) Get the clothesline up.

4) Spend $750 less than we bring in so I can send it to cc

The "unusual" expenses I see for this month are:

1) inspection for my car (actually due last month)

2) Travel for spring break (DH and I will meet the grands in Austin to transfer kids - his parents at the beginning and my parents at the end)

3) Trike-a-thon fundraiser for school. I hope to be able to work up the nerve to approach my bosses to be a sponsor so we can meet our fundraising obligation. We are supposed to raise $250/family/year. The fundraiser in the fall was untenable for us, it was selling pizza and cookies, which isn't something we use (I think they taste like crap) and since they have to be kept refrigerated, not something we can sell to family, so this is our last chance, otherwise we have to shell the money over ourselves.

4) Mothering magazine renewal.

5) transfer registrar on website.

My guess is that all of these together should come out to less than $500. That means my goal of $750 should be fairly easy to meet.

My February wrap-up

March 1st, 2006 at 04:09 am

We only had 4 no car days and we ate out 2.5 times (the 0.5 is dh with the boys for lunch). One was paid for with a gift card.

We didn't get our clothesline up. That's something I really need to get dh to do.

I didn't start my garden.

I don't have the numbers for gasoline (dh puts it on his card and I have to wait for his cc statement to come in.

Here are the good and the bad: (category/budget/actual/difference)

Grocery 300 414.46 114.46
Elec & Gas 200 150.72 -49.28
Eating out 150 84.68 -65.32
Misc 300 1013.89 713.89
gift 50 100.44 50.44
medical expenses 25 95.22 70.22

The miscellaneous includes the new computer and printer, but does not reflect the rebates we will be getting from them ($250 total). The eating out was actually $22 less as that went on the gift card, but I count that as income and it's a separate category).

DH stocked up on our gift category this month because he found a going out of business sale. I expect there to be little or no expense in that next month. The Grocery category reflects a stock-up too (as well as the fact that apparently if we have milk we will go through it like water).

The medical expenses were high (for us) this month. It reflects the sick visit for my kids and their medicine. Also, some vitamins for us.

Our miscellaneous category is frequently out of control. It's the one area where we really need to work (well, that and groceries).

I will update gas totals when we get the cc bill.

The good news is that even if we were way over budget on gas, we were still under our income, so we still spent less than we made.

Amortization Schedules

February 21st, 2006 at 05:15 am

There was a question about setting up amortization schedules. I use excel to do this. It's pretty easy once you get started.

You first need a bit of information. The first is your interest rate. The second is how is your interest calculated. Most mortgages are calculated as monthly interest (so the timing of your payment isn't important as long as you get it in before the late charge kicks in). Most cars and other loans are calculated as daily simple interest and the timing of your payment can make a big difference. You also need your current balance.

To figure your monthly or daily interest rate, divide your yearly rate by 12 or 365 (occasionally there will be a 360 DSI loan, but you'll catch that when it comes along). Don't forget to convert interest rates to decimals - 8% = 0.08.

So first, set up your columns. We'll do mortgage first, since it is simpler.

Column A - the month.
Column B - the current principal balance
Column C - =B*the monthly interest rate
Column D - the payment you are making
Column E - =B+C-D (this is your balance after making your payment)

Then it's a matter of cut and paste to get the rest. Column A you fill in, Column B - type "=E1". When you cut and paste it will go to "E2" etc. Note - I say E1, if you are on any row other than 1, use that row.

Okay for cars you need an extra column
Column A - the date you are making the payment
Column B - =A-the last date you made a payment (when you set this up, after the first row just put A2-A1, again changing the cell numbers if you need to).
Column C - current balance
Column D - =B*interest rate*C
Column E - the payment you are making
Column F - =C+D-E (your new balance).

This probably makes as much sense as mud, but open excel and see if you can figure it out. If not, maybe Jeffrey and/or Nate can walk me through posting a screen shot of an excel worksheet.

There are shorter ways to do this, but this provides a lot more information and is easy to work with.

Oh why not?

August 10th, 2005 at 11:12 pm

Maybe some accountability will help. Plus, I'm feeling lonely today, so why not?

Today was a pretty good day. My goal for August was to quit going to the vending machine. So far, I've skipped it. I have stopped at circle K for their big sodas, but I pour it off into water bottles and then drink it over several days rather than all at once.

I had to go to Walmart today. Ugh. But, I had to pay the water bill (and finally figured out how to get them to autodraft it, yay! no more stopping by to pay the stupid thing) so I figured why not. I did pretty well, I only got the personal care items on my list (but forgot dental floss) and then left. I had a $10 gift card from Mypoints, so I used it and then put the other $6.55 on my credit card (but the wrong one, I put it on discover which only gives me .25% rather than citibank which gives me 1%).

I'm enjoying Texas. Most personal care items are tax free. Coming from Oklahoma, that's a big savings. I'm used to paying 8.375% for EVERYTHING (food too) and now I'm here and it seems I rarely pay sales tax, and when I do, it's 8.25%.

It's hot today, so I'm not getting to the weeds like I need to. The electric weedwacker doesn't seem to work, so I'm using the manual one (craftsman brand), but it tires me out. I finally got some clippers to cut the johnsongrass, the weedwacker couldn't make headway through them.

We have a commitment to doing the best we can for the environment, which includes using a manual mower. This is wonderful, unless the grass decides to grow 4 inches in one week (it actually did that, I swear), then it will just push the grass blades over rather than cutting them. So, I spent several hours last week swinging the weedwacker over the front yard. Now it's the backyard's turn. I'm glad it's a small lot.

I haven't set that many goals yet. I want to stay within our budget (averaged monthly to allow some leeway) and pay off the credit cards (we rolled some high interest debt onto lower interest cards, but we need to pay them off ASAP anyway). I also want to try to save enough for a downpayment for a house come December. I hate renting. You get stuck with the crap your landlord buys - my dishwasher barely works and isn't energy star and the stove is from the 70s. Thankfully, the fridge is mine and is energy star. We also use a roasting oven and toaster oven for most things. Saves a lot of energy and doesn't heat up the whole house (we put the roaster in the garage). My crockpot got broken when we moved, so that's something we're thinking about buying again.

Well, that's enough for now. Thanks for reading.

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